Numbers 24:17 “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob. A scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the sons of Sheth.”
People try to be very careful about the words they use to describe their position on some issue or the kinds of things they do. They want to sound positive and optimistic instead of negative and pessimistic. Pro-life seems to sound better than anti-abortion. Physically challenged is preferred by some to physically handicapped.
We find the same emphasis in many of the ways that we describe Jesus’ work for us. Jesus has come to bring us salvation. He forgives our sins. He brings us God’s love, peace and joy. But all of these gifts also required him to do some things which may sound very negative. In order to save God’s children, he had to conquer, crush, and destroy God’s enemies. In order for us to enjoy eternal safety and security in the Kingdom of our God, the Kingdom of Satan and all who follow him must be reduced to rubble.
The prophet Balaam, who spoke these words, and the people of Moab he served were an example of one such enemy that needed to be crushed. They were making war against Israel. In doing so, they weren’t just attacking God’s children. They were attacking his promise of the Savior, who was to be born to this people and born in this part of the world. Even before his birth, as God in heaven Christ saw to it that everyone who opposed God’s plan to save us, including these Moabites, was taken out of the way and defeated.
He still fights for us today. Of course, he would prefer to defeat his human enemies by turning them into his friends. When we were God’s enemies he changed our hearts to make us his children instead. He still slashes away at our own sinful natures, which are still his enemies, reducing their influence on our lives. He still fights countless spiritual battles for us we aren’t even aware of, and he wins them every time. That may not be the image we usually think of when we think of our gentle, loving Savior.
The baby in the manger doesn’t look like a conquering hero. But as we see him in the words of the prophet Balaam, we see him conquer, and the enemies he conquers are our enemies, too. Their defeat means salvation for you and me.